-Author's Note: Contains metaphorical suicide, and vague references to self-mutilation, sex, and substance abuse. Read at your own discretion. It's pretty emo.-
They tell me I'm a watcher. I'm the one who sits in the corner on display for everyone to mock, but no-one sees me. I blend in. They won't notice me until I move, and then it will be too late. Then I'll be running. Running away again.
I do watch. People are varied as butterflies, their lives as insignificant and brief. They're shedding the husks of innocence as they crawl towards something new in their proud bright wings. Here they drink a new nectar—a poisonous one. Here two meet and cautiously feel each other—and like what they discover. And here, the dark-winged one folds her wings for the last time—crumples in.
I had never spoken to her. Now I never will. Butterfly lives are beautiful but brief.
I didn't cry. I hadn't known her, but I felt like I had. On the fringes I had watched her, like all the others. I touch with amorphous fingertips the wings of those who pass, and gather their discarded wrappings to weave into the fabric of my own life. She hadn't known me, but I had watched her for a long time, and I knew her fallen husks.
He hair was that shade that's so hard to classify—somewhere between wheat, dirt, and a doe's pelt. If you mixed up the early moon and the dying winter sun and pulled it into gossamer threads, it would match her hair. But the night swallows both moon and sun and spits out the rinds, and she dyed it black again and again. The summer skies of her eyes clouded over with storms. Every layer of childhood's wrappings she peeled back was sharp-edged, and red slashes appeared on her wrists where she struggled most to free the raw being that cried inside. To silence the screams that she held, she dipped herself in black and bit down hard on the forbidden fruit.
I listened to her as she shed her innocence. She never asked for help, just for the hearts of anyone who felt what she felt. There are others like her here still, and others have preceded her on the same path to infinity and nothing. They all cry the same words, but she was special. I had watched her before the dark and stormy night had seized her. I had watched her as she ripped herself apart. I had watched her as she shredded the last few layers, eyes of ashes and embers, red lightning pouring down her arms and pooling in the lakes at her wrists.
I never tried to save her. Someone once told me that the butterflies are only beautiful because of the sacrifice of the few who were ugly. The ones that remain are all the more sacred, and the others are forgotten. Survival of the fittest. Survival of the beautiful.
But I know he was wrong. She was always beautiful.
And I won't forget.
They said a few words, released a few tears. They wrapped her broken body in childhood memories and she was returned to the dirt and to the winter wheat. The beautiful ones have begun to forget; they flit away and their whispers are changing to worries and giggles. But I can't forget, because the sun and the moon will keep chasing the night down the path to infinity and nothing.
I'm not like them. I'm a watcher. Hidden in the shadows, muted shades of quiet grey. The elusive moth will live forever and paint the world's memories on his wings and on his heart. And then, when it seems the world has forgotten—he'll run.